THE Malaysian men’s archery team, led by Marbawi Mohd Sulaiman, made an awesome comeback to end their Vietnam SEA Games campaign with a bang at the National Sports Training Centre in Hanoi yesterday.
The team of Marbawi, Cheng Chu Sian and Amirnulah Ahmad upstaged defending champions Indonesia 236-231 in the final to claim the second gold medal in the men’s competition.
In the individual competition on Thursday, the 20-year-old Marbawi nailed the first gold medal for Malaysia in the 22nd Games and the first in the series from archery.
Malaysia finished with a haul of two gold and two silver medals. The silver medals came from the women’s competition. Mon Redee Sut Txi was the runner-up in the individual event and the highly-rated team also settled for second place.
“We were only ranked fifth in the team competition but we pulled off the biggest surprise of the archery competition,” said a beaming Marbawi.
“The women were expected to deliver the gold medal but the men proved that they were up to the task as well. I attribute this to the good understanding and team spirit. We did not give up when the chips were down. It's great to win both the gold medals in the men’s competition.”
En route to the final, Malaysia and Indonesia erased the Games record of 243, set by the latter in the Kuala Lumpur Games in 2001.
Malaysia beat the mark in the 244-231 win over top seeds the Philippines in the semi-finals. Indonesia achieved it in the 245-183 win over Laos.
In the tense final, underdogs Malaysia handled the pressure better.
After trailing the Indonesian team, who were represented by Kuswantoro, Shafrudin Mawi and Permadi Sandra Wibowo, Malaysia tied the score at 210 with only three arrows more remaining – thanks to an 8-10-8 by 17-year-old Chu Sian.
The 20-year-old Amirnulah, a debutant, shot like a seasoned campaigner, taking Malaysia to 236 with his final three arrows. But victory was not in the hand.
Malaysia had to wait anxiously for Permadi to make the final shoot. The Indonesian needed to hit the bull’s-eye to force deuce. But he buckled under pressure for a 5 and the Malaysians erupted in joy.
“I just could not believe it. We ran and hugged each other. I knew the team depended on me and I just went out there to give my very best,” said Amirnulah, a sports science student at Universiti Malaya.